One of my jobs involves working with children, and I was once prompted by them about how old I was. Some guessed 17; others guessed that I was closer to 40. The thing is, though I am nearly 31, a part of me still sees myself as 11. And I don’t have the mental wherewithal to ever consider myself the oldest in the room – even when I am.
I enjoy working with kids. I’m really supposed to be taking care of them, but it honestly feels more like I’m being paid to play. It’s been eye opening, moving from the adult world into thinking like a kid does for eight hours. And it’s not like I’m trying. It just feels like a suit that somehow still fits after 20+ years at the back of my closet. And more than that, the job has inspired me to write – and the stories it’s inspired have been ignited by the sparks of adventure and imagination that were so familiar at that age, rather than the sometimes painful working through of problems that writing as an adult can be.
Lately, I’ve considered using an Unlife chapter to do something in the former vein. A world martial arts tournament. A zombie apocalypse chapter. Unlife – Dark Souls Universe. There are so many options available. I may step away from what it means for James to be a man so I can be a boy for a bit. I guess that’s why I haven’t done it before now; Unlife is about growing up, and to live in the realm of fantasy and cartoons is intrinsically child-like…
I mean, that’s what I’ve told myself all this time, and yet, now I have a job doing just that… so was I wrong?
I have Mica call James “kid” because it fits with how she sees him and how he can sometimes see himself; a boy wandering into his father’s closet for a tie so that people will think he’s a man. But what makes you a man? Opening a business? Giving back to the community? Falling in love? Simply aging? Or is it just a construct? We all choose our definitions, and they’re all arbitrary; the answer is much more ineffable in nature.
The thing is, at 12, 30, and probably 100, I have loved and will love cartoons and adventures, video games and comics, and everything that makes me… me, I guess. What makes me happy. These things fill me with both glee and a sense of contentment. I smile, my mind is clear, and I feel at ease because I’m being honest with the people around me and with myself. In enjoying them openly, I’m no longer trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. No longer trying to hide the fact that I’m still a child and fooled you all.
Did I fool you? Did I ever fool those kids? I guess it doesn’t matter if I did. I’m tired of trying to fool people…
Look forward to the coming interlude by the way. It’s gonna be a scream.